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12/01/2011

Open the Pod Bay Doors, Siri

Story Sent in by Kerry:

I was essentially a third wheel on my first date with Jon. However, it's not at all how you imagine it.

First, a bit of background for those who may not know: Apple's latest iPhone, the iPhone 4S, comes equipped with a voice-activated "personal assistant" called Siri. You hit a button, ask something like, "Siri, what's the weather in Baltimore?" and the phone will display the weather in Baltimore.

Jon and I had agreed to meet in late afternoon on a Saturday. We had planned a short walk, then dinner. Less than five minutes after we met and introduced ourselves, he looked up into the cloudless sky and asked, "Do you think it's going to rain anytime soon?"

I said, "Not today."

He pulled out his iPhone, hit the button, and said, "Siri, what's the weather going to be in Akron?"

Siri gave him the answer. I asked, "Akron? We're nowhere near Akron."

He replied, "Yeah, but I've got friends in Akron. I'll ask it for the weather here: Siri, what's the weather going to be in Philadelphia?"

Siri gave him the answer. He stuffed the phone back into his pocket. "Well, no rain today," he said with a grin.

I smiled back and pointed up. "I think I could've told you that."

We moved on to other topics: college, family, work, aspirations, dreams, and the like. Then came the nuts and bolts: where to go for dinner. He asked me what I was in the mood for, and I suggested that we find an Italian place.

He pulled out his phone. "Siri, find Italian food in Philadelphia."

Siri gave him a list of results, but they apparently weren't what he was looking for. He repeated, "Siri, not McDonald's. Italian. Italian."

Siri gave him another result that I couldn't see. He growled and again hit the button. "Siri: are you a fucking joke? Italian! Italian! Italian!"

Siri gave him another apparently lacking result. He clutched the phone in his hand and shook to such an extent that I thought that he was going to throw the phone against the side of a building.

I said, "If we walk around the block, we're going to find something. Don't worry about it."

He said, "That's not the goddamn point! I want Siri to tell me where to go! That's the point!"

He hit the button and said, like he was talking to a hard-of-hearing three-year-old, "It-al-ian. It-al-ian."

Siri gave him a result that was more to his liking. He shoved the phone toward me, and it had a list of nearby places. Thank goodness. We picked one out and made for it.

It was a fancy place. The wine list was extensive. Jon asked me if I wanted to start with a glass of wine, and I said that I'd be game. He pulled out his phone and said, "Siri, suggest a good wine to go with Italian food."

The classical music that the place had playing over its speaker system was a bit loud, so perhaps that interfered with the voice commands. Whatever it was, Siri didn't give Jon the result he sought.

He groaned and hit the button again, "No, Siri, not wine places. We're in a place that serves wine. They have a whole list. Just suggest a good red wine."

Siri gave him another unfortunate result. He hit the button again. "Siri, I will run you over in my fucking car if you don't suggest a good wine."

I cut in, "Maybe just open up a search engine and look some of these wines up?"

"I shouldn't have to do that. What am I paying over a hundred bucks a month for if my personal assistant can't even assist me in picking out a good wine for me and my date?" He hit the button again. "Siri, suggest a goddamn wine. I'm not playing around."

Siri, chipper as ever, gave him exactly the wrong response. He said to me, "Excuse me. I'll be back," and left the restaurant.

I was miffed, and I had a mind to leave then and there. The waiter came by. I ordered a glass of cabernet, paid for it, and left.

There was no sign of Jon outside the restaurant, and I called him to let him know that I was heading home. He picked up the phone and asked, "Where are you?"

"I'm heading home. Where are you?"

"What? Don't go home! I'm on Walnut Street."

"Why?"

"It's where the Apple Store is. I'm going to make them fix this tonight so that you and I can have a pleasant dinner."

"I think that's not going to happen."

"Don't say that! Siri's abandoned me. Don't you abandon me, too!"

What, truly, could I have said in response to that?

He went on, "I'll be done here really soon. Just stay there. I'll pay for everything. Just stay there and I'll get it fixed and we'll have a pleasant dinner."

"I'm going home, Jon. Sorry. Good luck with your phone."

Then, into the phone, like a lonely wolf, he howled, "NoooOOOooo!"

I hung up. He called back twice, and I didn't pick up.

He sent me an email that night, which I've kept:



Siri, ignore.

13 comments:

Modern technology + modern idiocy + lack of social skills = fail dates all around.

What's the problem? Seems like a typical Apple user to me...

I'm actually pretty disturbed by this. It's amazing how quickly people become totally dependent on technology, and lose all ability to think for themselves. Reminds me of those people who drive their cars into a ditch "because the GPS told me to!"

Ahh, Siri, you and your wily ways: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/11/29/10-things-the-iphone-siri-will-help-you-get-instead-of-an-abortion/

Once upon a time, I was in a car with another driver. The driver's GPS told him to keep going straight. But the road had a dead end in it. He did not know what to do.

^ Tragic. Really, society's dependency on technology is almost frightening.

Let's all become Amish!

@Dan

Woman hit by car, sues Google
http://news.cnet.com/8301-17852_3-20006379-71.html

We now have people who think that they are interacting with other people when they talk into their phones. What's worse than technology or our dependence thereon is how stupid we are getting. I, for one, can envision a world where machines rule and not because they're super smart, but because we're super dumb.

@ Agnes, I was going to comment on that. How convenient that Siri doesn't search for that.

Well, in a roundabout way, Jon DOES make a good point. The primary purpose of buying an Apple product is simply to be able to be able to show it off to people for hipster cred and admiration (especially since much of Apple's marketing focuses not on the product but on the coolness and intellectual quality of the users). So even though Siri is just an expensive & retarded version of the Droid Genius button, it's extremely important that the app LOOKS awesome, otherwise Jon just totally wasted his money.

I've been reading about possible bias of Siri against helping users search for abortion clinics and contraception. Apple must be run by the Catholic Church.

This comment has been removed by the author.

@Ashley, I read that article too.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-15982466

I would not be surprised if Siri actually did perform a neutral search for local abortion clinics and came across several places that masqueraded as such but were in fact pro-life organizations. (I have seen a Law & Order SVU episode about this several years back ;p)

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